As the vice president of sales and marketing for the Ebbert Co., a construction manufacturers representation firm, Troy Ebbert's office is his car. He fields product inquiries, makes sales calls, and manages a sales team of eight—all from his driver's seat. But even with the advent of cell phones and BlackBerrys, Ebbert wasn't operating all that efficiently from his mobile work-space. Contacts, to-do lists, calendar events, e-mails, notes—all would have to be drafted in hard copy in the car and then keyed into his personal computer later. Evening hours and weekends were sacrificed to transfer the information.
Enter the Electronic Virtual Assistant, or E.V.A. (www.evaforhire.com). The telephone service allows people who work on the road to keep up with housekeeping items through voice mail. Someone dials an 800 number and leaves a message. Then an E.V.A. representative types the voice mail verbatim and sends it as an e-mail to the specified recipient. For someone like Ebbert, he can send himself notes on sales calls or send a message to a client while doing 80 mph on the highway.
“It's information at your fingertips without having to use your fingertips to input it all,” says Ebbert.
BIG BUILDER gave the service a go. The voice mail message was transferred to an e-mail and sent within 14 minutes.
But E.V.A. handles other tasks as well. The service can populate a calendar, generate a to-do list, maintain a contact list, or even fill in a report. Once back at the office, a user can log in to the E.V.A. account via the Web and view the information or download it to Microsoft Outlook. The E.V.A. account also has a search function so users can see messages related to certain topics or dates.
Ebbert says that being able to stay better connected with his team and his clients is well worth the roughly $160 per month he spends for 80 minutes of talk time. And talk time is debited to exact length of each message, meaning that no rounding of minutes occurs.
“My average sales call is about a minute to a minute and a half of talk time, which gives me roughly 70 sales calls per month. That's a lot,” he explains.
And E.V.A. has moved into the next phase of service development with E.V.A.'s Ear. Targeted to people whose office is an airplane's window seat, E.V.A.'s Ear is essentially a dictator about half the size of a dollar bill. A user speaks into the dictator, composing messages, notes, and to-do lists, where it's all recorded. Once back on the ground, a user can plug the dictator into the computer for download. Messages are sent, and calendars and contact lists are updated without having to type a single letter.